France Announces Second Lockdown

France Announces Second Lockdown

Oct. 29, 2020, 7:13 a.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced new lockdown measures for France. There were more than 36,000 new cases reported in the past 24 hours.French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a second national lockdown until at least the end of November.

Mr Macron said that under the new measures, starting on Friday, people would only be allowed to leave home for essential work or medical reasons.

Non-essential businesses, such as restaurants and bars, will close, but schools and factories will remain open.

Covid daily deaths in France are at the highest level since April. On Tuesday, 33,000 new cases were confirmed.

Mr Macron said the country risked being "overwhelmed by a second wave that no doubt will be harder than the first".

Meanwhile, Germany will impose an emergency lockdown that is less severe but includes the closure of restaurants, gyms and theatres.

Infections are rising sharply across Europe, including the UK which on Wednesday announced 310 new deaths and 24,701 new officially-recorded cases.

In England, a new study estimates almost 100,000 people are actually catching the virus every day, with researchers warning that "something has to change".

Night curfews are in force in several countries, including for 46 million people in France.

News of the new restrictions being introduced in Europe's biggest economies led to sharp falls in the financial markets on Wednesday. The UK's FTSE 100 ended almost 2.6% lower, and Germany's Dax dropped 4.2%. Major US indexes also sank 3.4% or more.

"We are deep in the second wave," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. "I think that this year's Christmas will be a different Christmas."

France will enter a new coronavirus lockdown on Friday until at least December 1.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced the new restrictions in a speech from the Elysee palace after an emergency meeting. It came shortly after neighboring Germany announced a new lockdown.

The rules apply to all of France, but there will be an exception for the upcoming All Saint's holiday weekend.

Authorities will reassess the situation in 15 days. French Prime Minister Jean Castex will announce further details on Thursday, just before the lockdown goes into effect.

"We were all surprised by the acceleration of the epidemic. We must remain united and in solidarity and not give in to the poison of division. This is a difficult time, but it is a sign of who we are, women and men who are bound together," Macron said.

"I have confidence in us, in you, in our ability to overcome this ordeal. We must each take our place in transparency, in debate, in the determination to apply the rules we set for ourselves. We are a united and supportive nation, and that is the only way we will succeed. We are France. I am counting on you. We will all get there together," he concluded.

Economic support

Macron said there would be widespread economic support for people and business affected by the lockdown.

Small businesses will have access to €10,000 ($11,700) per month in assistance, employees will continue to receive short-term work assistance and people who have trouble paying rent will receive assistance.

A large proportion of the country is already facing strict measures, with two-thirds of the population under a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for the past two weeks, however Macron said this was still ineffective.

The new lockdown measures are slightly more relaxed than the country's first in spring, when people were confined to their homes for eight weeks under strict conditions and schools were closed.

The only way

Macron said the new lockdown was urgent due to the risk of hospitals being overwhelmed.

"If we do not take action now ... then our hospitals will be overwhelmed, and this time around we will not be able to transfer patients to other regions because the virus is everywhere," Macron said.

"It is my responsibility to protect all French citizens."

More than 3,000 people are currently in intensive care in France, according to the latest figures, with more than half of intensive care beds now occupied by COVID-19 patients.

France has the highest number of infections in Europe, with more than 36,000 new infections detected in the past 24 hours.

Macron said the goal of the new lockdown was to reduce new daily infections to 5,000. The pandemic has already killed more than 35,000 people in France since it began.

Macron rejected the idea of herd immunity, saying this would kill an additional 400,000 French people and lead to hospitals triaging all patients.

"France could never stand by and see hundreds of thousands of its citizens die. It is not in line with French values and it is not in our interests."

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